Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Choosing the Positive

People who have mood disorders are on the receiving end of a lot of negative energy in their lives. Things like criticism, disagreement, discord, faultfinding, judgment and nitpicking are seldom strangers to someone who has depression or bipolar. Sometimes the negative feedback comes directly from the person themself. All too often they are their own worst critic, and this steady stream of negative feedback can make problems even worse:

  • It deepens discouragement that may trigger additional stress.
  • It usually adds to a loved one’s shame, guilt and already low self-esteem.
  • It makes difficult situations even more difficult.
  • It can cause a loved one to lose hope, give up and adopt a “what’s the use?” mentality.
  • It may eventually lead to suicide ideation, or even worse.

Something they don’t often get enough of is understanding and compassion, and this is so unfortunate. When we as companions, family members or caregivers are able to provide compassionate understanding of our loved one’s behavior, however irrational or inappropriate that behavior may be, we have the potential of gaining the following:

  • Greater insight of what our loved one is dealing with and how their illness is interfering with their ability to make healthy choices.
  • Identifying and prioritizing our loved one’s needs (medical care, therapy, support groups, nutrition, stress reduction, shelter, etc.)
  • Discovering and implementing recovery tools that help motivate our loved one toward achieving managed stability.
  • Establishing mutually agreed upon realistic goals (“small steps”) and avoiding pressurized unrealistic goals (“huge steps”), and then achieving those goals.

When our loved one uses poor judgment or makes an unhelpful or unhealthy choice, our choice should be to stay positive and remember that they may be doing the very best they can at the moment. Through compassionate understanding we and our loved one can continue to move in the direction of stability, regardless of how small the steps we are able to manage at the time.

Choosing positive directions is vital to recovery. Let’s try to always choose wisely.


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